Economic Contextual Factors and Child Body Mass Index

29 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2009 Last revised: 11 Feb 2023

See all articles by Lisa M. Powell

Lisa M. Powell

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Health Policy and Administration (HPA)

Frank J. Chaloupka

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2009

Abstract

This study examines the relationship between child weight and fast food and fruit and vegetable prices and the availability of fast food restaurants, full-service restaurants, supermarkets, grocery stores and convenience stores. We estimate cross-sectional and individual-level fixed effects (FE) models to account for unobserved individual-level heterogeneity. Data are drawn from the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics combined with external food price and outlet density data at the zip code level. FE results show that higher fruit and vegetable prices are statistically significantly related to a higher body mass index (BMI) percentile ranking among children with greater effects among low-income children: fruit and vegetable price elasticity for BMI is estimated to be 0.25 for the full sample and 0.60 among low-income children. Fast food prices are statistically significantly related to child weight only in cross-sectional models among low-income children with a price elasticity of -0.77. Increased supermarket availability and fewer available convenience stores are related with lower weight outcomes among low-income children. These results provide evidence on the potential effectiveness of using fiscal pricing interventions such as taxes and subsidies and other interventions to improve supermarket access as policy instruments to address childhood obesity.

Suggested Citation

Powell, Lisa M. and Chaloupka, Frank J., Economic Contextual Factors and Child Body Mass Index (June 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15046, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1415209

Lisa M. Powell

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Health Policy and Administration (HPA) ( email )

1747 W. Roosevelt Road
MC 275
Chicago, IL 60608
United States

Frank J. Chaloupka (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

m/c 144 601 South Morgan St., Room 2103
Chicago, IL 60607-7121
United States
312-413-2367 (Phone)
312-996-3344 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States